How popular is the baby name Buffy in the United States right now? How popular was it historically? Use the popularity graph and data table below to find out! Plus, see all the blog posts that mention the name Buffy.

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Popularity of the baby name Buffy

Posts that mention the name Buffy

How did “Family Affair” influence baby names?

Actress Anissa Jones in the TV series "Family Affair" (1966-1971).
Actress Anissa Jones in “Family Affair

In the TV sitcom Family Affair, which premiered in 1966, a Manhattan bachelor suddenly becomes a father of three when he takes in his late brother’s orphaned children: 15-year-old Cissy and 6-year-old twins Buffy (girl) and Jody (boy).

All of the children’s names — Cissy, Buffy, and Jody — plus variants like Buffie and Jodie — saw higher usage while the show was on the air.

But the name I want to highlight is Anissa — the first name of child actress Anissa Jones, who played pig-tailed Buffy. The name debuted in the U.S. baby name data in 1966, skyrocketed into the top 1,000 the next year, and entered the top 500 the year after that:

  • 1972: 459 baby girls were named Anissa [rank: 421st]
  • 1971: 724 baby girls were named Anissa [rank: 348th]
  • 1970: 603 baby girls were named Anissa [rank: 388th]
  • 1969: 607 baby girls were named Anissa [rank: 377th]
  • 1968: 503 baby girls were named Anissa [rank: 417th]
  • 1967: 219 baby girls were named Anissa [rank: 646th]
  • 1966: 23 baby girls were named Anissa [debut]
  • 1965: unlisted
  • 1964: unlisted

Anissa Jones was born Mary Anissa Jones in Indiana in 1958. She was of Lebanese descent, and her middle name was apparently derived from the Arabic male name Anis, meaning “friend.” She pronounced the name ah-NEE-sah.

The name saw peak popularity in 1971 — the year Family Affair went off the air. (It also saw an uptick in usage in 1976, the year Anissa Jones died at the age of 18 from a drug overdose.)

A secondary peak in popularity happened in 1993-1994 thanks to the TV movie For the Love of My Child: The Anissa Ayala Story, which aired in mid-1993 and was based on the true story of Anissa Ayala, a teenage leukemia patient in need of a bone marrow donor. Her parents had another baby (Marissa) in the hopes that the second child would be a compatible donor (she was).

What are your thoughts on the name Anissa?


  • Family Affair – Wikipedia
  • Garver, Kathy. Surviving Cissy: My Family Affair of Life in Hollywood. Lanham, MD: Taylor Trade Publishing, 2015.

Where did the baby name Buff come from in 1952?

Buff Cobb and Mike Wallace of the TV series "Mike and Buff" (1951-1953).
Buff Cobb and Mike Wallace

Here’s a curious one: Buff. It appeared in the SSA data in the middle of the 20th century as both a boy name and a girl name — but slightly more often as a girl name. The female usage was entirely in the 1950s:

  • 1960: unlisted
  • 1959: 5 baby girls named Buff
  • 1958: unlisted
  • 1957: unlisted
  • 1956: 6 baby girls named Buff
  • 1955: 15 baby girls named Buff
  • 1954: 10 baby girls named Buff
  • 1953: 6 baby girls named Buff
  • 1952: 5 baby girls named Buff [debut]
  • 1951: unlisted
  • 1950: unlisted

What was the influence here?

An actress with an intriguingly gender-neutral name: Buff Cobb.

She was born Patrizia Chapman in Italy in 1927 to American parents. When she decided in her teens to become a film star, she created the stage name “Buff Cobb” from her mother’s nickname, Buffy, and her maternal grandfather’s surname, Cobb. (He was writer/humorist Irvin Cobb.)

While Buff’s film career didn’t pan out, she did tour with a company putting on Noël Coward’s play Private Lives in the late ’40s. During a stop in Chicago, she was interviewed for a radio show by a young reporter named Mike Wallace — most famous today for his work as a 60 Minutes correspondent from 1968 to 2006.

She and Mike got married in 1949 and began co-hosting a Chicago radio show, which led to two New York City TV shows (both live):

  • Mike and Buff (1951-1953), originally entitled Two Sleepy People, one of television’s first talk shows. “[T]he couple would engage in heated debate over a different topic each day, then try to settle their differences after interviewing experts.” One of Mike’s catchphrases on the show was: “Smarten up, Buff!” The show was sponsored by Pepsi and guests included Harry Belafonte and Mickey Spillane.
  • All Around the Town (1951-1952), an interview show typically broadcast from different parts of New York City.
mike and buff

A year after Mike and Buff was cancelled, the real Mike and Buff were also cancelled — they divorced in 1954. Buff appeared regularly on just one more TV show after that: the ’50s game show Masquerade Party, from 1953 to 1955. Usage of the (female) name Buff was highest during these years.

Do you like the name Buff for a baby girl? Do you like it more or less than Buffy and Buffie (both of which also debuted during the first half of the ’50s)?


Image: Clipped from page 12 of the December 1952 Radio-TV Mirror.